How the Cleveland Union Terminal Project Changed Property Values on Public Square


Cleveland's Public Square




In 1911, the Board of Assessors of Real Property for the City of Cleveland issued an atlas titled First Quadrennial Assessment of Real Property for the City of Cleveland, 1910, in which they displayed the front-foot tax valuations of property throughout the city. This was based on William A. Somers' unit system of property valuation equations. The image on the left, above, is a section cut from that atlas, showing the valuations around Public Square. On the lower left corner of the square (southern/southwestern in actuality) you can see that the valuations ranged from $1,800 to $2,000.

In 1932, the Cuyahoga County Auditor, John A. Zangerle (who had been Secretary of the earlier Board of Assessors), issued another atlas, titled The Principles of Land and Building Appraisals as Scientifically Applied in Cuyahoga County, giving the equivalent valuations for 1931-32. The figure at right, above, is a section cut from that atlas, showing how the appraisal of property on Public Square had increased in the intervening two decades, in the opinion of government appraisers.  

While the average increase elsewhere on the Public Square was between 150% and 200%, the values in front of the Terminal Tower and Higbees increased 300% and 400%, respectively. Even more significant for the impact the Cleveland Union Terminal project had upon values in this part of the city is found "behind" the Terminal Tower, where the general average of $350 per front foot increased to $2,000-$3,000: an increase of approximately 700%.

Comparing these numbers is not easily done, especially where the street patterns were so dramatically altered, but it would be a worthwhile project to study the series of appraisal atlases issued by Zangerle during the first half of the twentieth century to see how one authority evaluated the real estate growth of one of America's largest cities. Massive real estate projects like the Cleveland Union Terminal certainly were an important part of that process, but which should be balanced against other costs, direct and indirect, and tangible and intangible.

Here is one edition (1946-47) in its entirety:

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January 2, 2013